REIGN PREVIEW – Ontario vs. Coachella Valley, 2/17

WHO: Ontario Reign (26-17-2-1) vs. Coachella Valley Firebirds (31-7-4-1)
WHEN: Friday, February 17 @ 7:00 PM Pacific
WHERE: Toyota Arena – Ontario, CA
HOW TO FOLLOW: VIDEO: AHLTV – AUDIO: Mixlr – TWITTER: @ShafReign & @OntarioReign

The Ontario Reign and Coachella Valley Firebirds open a stretch of three matchups in a span of six nights on Friday evening at Toyota Arena. The teams have played to three different outcomes during each of their previous meetings this season, with Ontario going 1-1-1 in the trio of contests. Most recently, Coachella Valley prevailed in overtime by a 5-4 score from a back-and-forth game in Ontario on Jan. 21. After tonight the two teams will see each other four more times before closing their season series, with two games played on each club’s home ice. Ontario has outshot Coachella Valley 116-96 in the first three meetings while producing a 30.8% power play success rate (4-for-13).

WHAT TO WATCH FOR: Ontario’s recent streak of securing points from each of their last four games hasn’t changed its standing at all in the Pacific Division, as it remains five points behind Colorado and seven back of Abbotsford in the race for home ice in the opening round of the 2023 Calder Cup Playoffs. The Firebirds, who have played three fewer games than the Reign, are in second place and sit just three points behind Calgary for the top spot in the table. Coachella Valley is in the top five of both the AHL’s offense and defensive rankings, including third with 157 goals scored in 43 games (3.65) and fourth on defense by allowing just 2.63 tallies per contest. The Reign on the other hand rank sixth in the league’s defensive rankings, surrendering 2.78 goals per game. Ontario has been led by captain TJ Tynan against the Firebirds, who has scored a team-high six points in the three previous battles with a goal and five assists. Martin Chromiak has also been a big factor in the series, totaling a team-leading four goals including a hat trick in the most recent matchup. Coachella Valley’s leader against Ontario is their captain, Max McCormick, who matched Chromiak with a hat trick on Jan. 21 and has seven points in the series on four goals and three assists.

LAST TIME OUT: A goal in overtime by Danil Gushchin gave the San Jose Barracuda a 4-3 decision over the Ontario Reign on Wednesday night at Tech CU Arena. Samuel Helenius had the first multi-point game of his AHL career for Ontario in the loss with a goal and an assist, while Cal Petersen stopped 37 shots to keep the Reign in the contest. Jacob Moverare and Lias Andersson also found the back of the net, while Nikita Pavlychev and Andre Lee each registered their first assists of the season. All three matchups during Ontario’s three-game road trip needed extra time to find a winner, with the Reign securing five out of a possible six points.

HELENIUS GETS ON THE BOARD: Samuel Helenius scored his first goal of the 2022-23 season for Ontario during the second period of Wednesday’s game to tie the contest at 2-2. Three minutes prior, the Jarvenpaa, Finland native assisted on his team’s first goal of the night by Jacob Moverare. Not only was it Helenius’ first multi-point AHL game, but the performance also brought him into double digits in overall scoring this season with 10 points in 45 games on a goal and nine helpers. The rookie also finished Wednesday night’s contest with a season-high plus-2 rating.

SCOUTING THE FIREBIRDS: The AHL affiliate of the NHL’s Seattle Kraken, the Firebirds have been one of the strongest teams in the Pacific Division during their first season in the league. Forwards Jesper Froden and Max McCormick are tied for the team lead in overall scoring, each with 46 points. Froden’s total is made up of a club-high 24 goals and 22 assists, while McCormick, who serves as team captain, has posted 20 goals and 26 helpers. Froden’s goal total is second-most in the AHL. Coachella Valley is missing veteran Andrew Poturalski, who posted 42 points on 11 goals and 31 assists in 38 games prior to an injury sustained on Jan. 26. Defender Brogan Rafferty has the most points among Firebirds’ blueliners with 29 on five goals and 24 helpers. In net, Joey Daccord has claimed the majority of the minutes while appearing in 27 games and posting a 2.54 goals-against average and a 19-5-2 record this season.

GIVE ‘EM MO: Jacob Moverare’s second period goal Wednesday night was of the highlight-reel variety, which featured a blocked shot in his own end of the ice before using a defenseman as a screen while wristing the puck into the opposition’s net to get Ontario its first tally of the contest. Moverare’s shot that beat San Jose goaltender Strauss Mann was his third strike of the season and the seventh of his AHL career. The blueliner from Ostersund, Sweden is just two points away from matching his AHL career-high of 15 goals which was set during his rookie campaign in 2021.

BIG TIME BISSON: Defender Tobie Bisson scored his third goal of the season in the third period of Saturday’s contest at Henderson which tied up the contest and eventually forced overtime. Bisson was on the scoresheet again Wednesday in San Jose, recording an assist on Samuel Helenius’ second period strike. The blueliner now has points in three of his last four outings, including an assist in the Reign’s home win over Tucson on Feb. 4. Bisson also received his first-career NHL recall by the LA Kings on Monday. While the Rosemere, Quebec native is still waiting to make his NHL debut, he appeared in one preseason contest during this season’s training camp. Bisson has totaled 126 games during his AHL career, scoring 39 points on seven goals and 32 assists while earning a +22 rating and 71 penalty minutes.

ROAD WARRIORS: Despite losing in overtime on Wednesday, Ontario has gone unbeaten in regulation in five consecutive road games for the first time during 2022-23, dating back to an overtime win over Calgary on Jan. 25. After that contest, which included a come from behind performance ending in two straight goals by Lias Andersson, the Reign won three straight away from the Inland Empire in San Diego, Bakersfield and Henderson before falling short in San Jose. Overall, the Reign have a 13-9-1-1 record in 24 road games this season while securing 28 points in the standings.

2022-23 Head-to-Head Schedule vs. Coachella Valley (all times Pacific):
Wed., Dec. 28 at Coachella Valley, 6-7 L – Full Recap
Sun., Jan. 8 at Coachella Valley, 3-2 SOW – Full Recap
Sat., Jan. 21 vs. Coachella Valley, 4-5 OTL – Full Recap
Fri., Feb. 17 vs. Coachella Valley, 7 p.m.

Mon., Feb. 20 at Coachella Valley, 3 p.m.
Wed., Feb. 22 vs. Coachella Valley, 7:00 p.m.
Fri., Mar. 31 vs. Coachella Valley, 7:00 p.m.
Wed., Apr. 12 at Coachella Valley, 7:00 p.m.

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